Category: Travel

Go Green When Spending Time Outdoors This Summer

The great outdoors beckons people year-round. But nature is especially enticing in summer, when warm weather compels people to leave their couches and soak up some sun. Spending time outdoors is rewarding, and it can be even more so when men and women take steps to make their outdoor recreation as eco-friendly as possible. Whether it’s choosing certain activities or taking other measures, there are various ways to go green when spending time outdoors this summer and beyond.

Leave the car at home.

Americans and Canadians consume more gasoline per capita than any people in the world. According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the United Nations, Americans consume 4.39 liters of gasoline per capita each day, while Canadians consume 3.62 liters per capita each day. In lieu of driving everywhere this summer, men and women who want to be more mindful of the environment can leave their cars home more frequently. Rather than driving the family to a nearby ice cream stand, walk or bike there instead. Run as many errands on foot or on a bicycle as possible. Walking or cycling is a great way to get some time outdoors on warm summer days, and reducing fuel consumption is an equally great way to help the planet.

Vacation locally.

Another way to help the planet when spending time outdoors this summer is to vacation locally. People who vacation close to home typically do not fly, and that’s a significant benefit to the planet. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes that aviation emissions release black carbon, nitrous oxide and sulphur oxide, which contribute to the greenhouse gas effect. And while the EIA notes that automobiles and airplanes produce relatively similar amounts of carbon dioxide per gallon, airplanes burn considerably more fuel than cars, thanks in large part to the considerable amount of fuel planes burn on the runway. By vacationing locally, outdoor enthusiasts can reduce their reliance on airplanes, thereby reducing the effects those airplanes have on the environment.

Embrace eco-friendly activities.

Various activities, from organic gardening to planting trees to beach cleanups, provide a great way to get outdoors and help the planet at the same time. Men and women who grow their own vegetables can take solace knowing that the vegetables they’re eating each night did not require the depletion of any natural resources to go from garden to table. Signing up for beach cleanups can prevent trash, including harmful plastics, from making its way into the world’s oceans, and such cleanups provide a great excuse to go to the beach.

Volunteer with a local park service.

The National Park Service offers a variety of volunteer opportunities to individuals who are enamored with the great outdoors and are interested in protecting their local and national parks. Such opportunities can be explored by visiting www.nps.gov/getinvolved/volunteer.htm. Parks Canada (www.pc.gc.ca) offers similar opportunities to outdoor enthusiasts.

Outdoor enthusiasts can make their summers more rewarding by taking steps to be as eco-friendly as possible when spending time outdoors.

Making the Most of Family Vacations

Family vacations can seem like daunting endeavors to organize, as planners must cater to each member of the family and their individual needs. Family vacations can cost several thousand dollars, which only adds to the pressure planners may be under. But careful planning makes it possible to simplify the process so more time can be spent resting, relaxing and having fun.

Child-friendly hotel

One of the “musts” when booking a family vacation is finding the right accommodations. This often means booking rooms at family-friendly hotels. Things to look for when seeking hotels include amenities like swimming pools and recreation areas, nearby parks and other attractions that kids can enjoy, and easy access to stores that sell necessities. When booking a room, request one that is close to the elevator or the breakfast buffet. If you have youngsters who nap or go to bed early, try to book adjoining rooms or one-bedroom suites. This way the kids are tucked in but accessible, allowing adults to enjoy their downtime.

Plan the trip together

Get the entire family involved when planning a vacation and let children who are old enough to have a say in some of the travel plans. Let kids choose some activities, pick some restaurants or even select which seats to sit in on the airplane.

Pack as lightly as possible

Pack light and, if possible, buy some necessities when you arrive. Few things can be as headache-inducing as dragging along extra luggage with kids in tow. Choosing a hotel or resort with laundry facilities can be advantageous to active families who may get messy along the way.

Allow for downtime

While it’s beneficial to have an itinerary, leave some moments for spontaneity and rest. You don’t want to return home so tired from the trip that you need another break. Use downtime as opportunities for kids to lead the way.

Travel off the beaten path

Mature children may like sights and sounds that aren’t necessarily designed for kids. So while it may be tempting to stick to big-name resorts that cater to families, there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had exploring lesser-known islands or villages. And while you’re at it, introduce children to native cuisines so they can broaden their culinary palates.

Relive the memories

Make lasting vacation memories more by putting together a photo album or scrapbook.

Pack Well For A Hike In The Wilderness

September may enjoy the title of National Wilderness Month, but any time of year is a good time to enjoy the great outdoors. One of the ways to immerse oneself in nature is to enjoy a day hike or overnight backpacking excursion.

Millions of people take to trails or create their own paths all across the world each and every year. Hiking is a great way to enjoy the beauty of nature, but it also has other benefits. The American Hiking Society notes that research has consistently shown that hiking as regular exercise can improve overall health and fitness. It also may lengthen and improve quality of life. Hiking as a form of low-impact walking can reduce risk for heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and anxiety.

Preparing for a hike involves packing accordingly for the trip. These items should be brought along on hiking trips to ensure such excursions are comfortable, safe and successful.

· Water: Bring along water whether you’re hiking in warm or cool temperatures. Water can be heavy, so some experienced hikers prefer to bring a filtration device or purifying tablets so they can rely on natural water sources for their drinks.

· Proper footwear: Trail shoes may be adequate for shorter hikes or when you are not carrying much gear. Otherwise, opt for sturdy hiking boots with plenty of sole and ankle support.

· Nutrition: Bring along lightweight food to keep you well fed. Any number of situations, including difficult trails and getting lost, can prolong hiking trips. Nutritious snacks can help hikers maintain their energy levels.

· Rain gear/extra clothing: Dressing in layers and having a change of clothes enables you to adjust your attire according to the weather conditions. Wear water-repellant materials that wick away sweat.

· Sun protection: Sun protection encompasses sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat.

· Illumination: Pack a headlamp or flashlight, and don’t forget the batteries. Light will help you navigate if you are out after sundown. Flashlights also can be used to signal others if you’re lost.

· Navigational tools: A compass and map will help keep you on course. Remember, cell phones may not work in remote areas.

· Fire starter: A night spent in the wilderness may not be on the itinerary, but chemical fire starters, matches or even dryer lint can help start fires in emergency situations.

· Multipurpose tool: A multipurpose tool can be used to cut items, open cans and much more.

· First aid kit: Don’t forget a prepackaged first aid kit to treat minor or major injuries. Taking a first aid course is also helpful.

· Toilet paper: When nature calls in nature, a roll of toilet paper can make things much easier.

· Emergency shelter: Tarps, tents or even reflective blankets can be put to use if a day trip needs to be turned into an overnight stay.

Hiking is a fun way to enjoy the wilderness. Hikers must pack accordingly for every trip.

Budget-Friendly Family Vacation Tips

Family vacations provide wonderful opportunities for families to bond and make lasting memories. But such opportunities do not come without a price, and that price is oftentimes very steep.

According to the 2015 TripBarometer study from popular travel website TripAdvisor, travelers across the globe are open to spending more on travel in 2016 than they have in the past. The study, conducted on behalf of TripAdvisor by the independent research firm Ipsos, analyzed more than 44,000 responses from travelers and hoteliers across the globe. Thirty-three percent of respondents plan to spend more on travel in 2016 than they did in 2015, while 31 percent admitted that they plan to spend more on travel because it’s important for their health and well-being.

Those figures are good news for the travel industry, but travelers, especially parents who plan to vacation with their children, should expect to encounter rising room rates when planning their trips. That’s because nearly half of all hoteliers surveyed indicated their intentions to increase room rates in 2016. While that might scare off some budget-conscious travelers, parents should know there are ways to cut the costs of family vacations.

· Consider alternative accommodations. Families accustomed to staying in hotels while on vacation may be able to save by exploring some budget-friendly alternatives to hotels. Vacation rental properties, which may include private homes or condominiums, may charge less per day than four- or five-star hotels in the same city. Before booking accommodations, parents should explore all lodging options, including online bed and breakfast websites that may showcase private homes that boast lower nightly rates than large hotel chains.

· Book through a travel agency. Many travelers now book their own vacations through popular do-it-yourself travel websites such as Orbitz, but going it alone may not be the most cost-effective approach for families. Many travel agency representatives are accustomed to working with travelers who are on a budget and building vacations that include all the sights their clients want to see for the amount they’re willing to spend. Travel agency representatives typically have considerable connections in the countries they specialize in, and those connections can produce memorable experiences at lower costs than travelers would likely pay booking the trips on their own. In addition, many travel agencies include the cost of admissions to various sights in their packages, making it easier for travelers to budget for their trips.

· Scour discount websites for deals. E-commerce marketplaces such as Groupon aren’t just for date nights at home. Such websites and services also provide domestic and international travel deals. Families can book entire trips through such websites, many times at considerable discounts, or scour the sites for deals on sightseeing opportunities in the cities where they will be vacationing.

· Plan to cook. Meals can quickly consume travelers’ budgets. The Consumer Expenditure Survey released in 2015 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that food and alcohol can take up about 16 percent of the budget for international travelers, and 27 percent for domestic travelers. Such estimates seem low and might reflect the difficulty surveyors had distinguishing between travelers who visited friends and family, and subsequently spent little on food, and travelers who had to purchase all of their vacation meals. Families can cut meal costs by planning to do some of their own cooking. Rental properties and extended stay hotels are typically equipped with full kitchens, which can help parents save money without sacrificing the quality of their vacations.

Families looking forward to their next vacations can implement several strategies to make those trips affordable.

How To Avoid Hot Weather Automotive Breakdowns

When the weather warms, many people take to the outdoors to enjoy the sunshine and rising temperatures. Summer road trips or vacations are the norm, but it is important to realize that hot weather can take its toll even on a new, well-maintained vehicle.

High temperatures can cause all sorts of damage to a vehicle, from zapping battery power to overtaxing the cooling system. Recognizing potential hot-weather risks and performing routine checks on the vehicle are the keys to keeping vehicles in top form.

Battery

Excessive heat can shorten the life of a battery because it causes battery fluid to evaporate more quickly. This, in turn, can damage the internal structure of the battery. AAA reports that car battery issues are the most common breakdown calls.

It’s a good idea to top off a battery with distilled water if it is the kind that requires it. Low-maintenance batteries may not have filler caps and will not require water. Inspect the battery for corrosion and leakage of battery acid. This could be a sign that the battery is getting old and will need to be replaced.

Cooling system

Cooling systems work hard to keep the flow of air to the engine and prevent it from overheating during warm seasons. Compromised cooling fans or lack of coolant can be troublesome. To avoid overheating, check coolant levels before getting on the road. In addition, have the cooling system checked by a trained mechanic prior to the summer driving season. It’s a small price to pay to avoid extensive engine damage from overheating.

Tires

Hot weather causes the pressure inside of tires to rise. Overinflated tires can wear down prematurely or result in blowouts. The Car Care Council recommends checking tire pressure routinely in the summer, when tires are cold. Follow the guidelines in the owner’s manual for recommended air pressure. Look for improper tread wear, weak spots or other tire damage that may end up causing flats.

Fluid levels

Hot weather can put extra demand on all fluids and engine components. Check transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and engine oil levels. Top off or change when necessary.

Pack with breakdowns in mind

Plan ahead for potential summer breakdowns by bringing along water, snacks, sunscreen, and an emergency medical kit. Be sure mobile phones are fully charged and that the number of a tow service or roadside assistance crew is entered into your list of contacts in the event of an emergency.

With warm-weather road trips beckoning, it’s time to plan accordingly to prevent breakdowns that can derail fun.

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Travel More by Reducing Related Stress Triggers

The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics indicates that more than half of all American workers are not using all of their vacation days, equalling to $224 billion in cash value, according to Oxford Economics, an economic analysis firm. In Canada, unused vacation time isn’t as pronounced but it is still apparent. A recent survey by California-based staffing firm Robert Half found that 26 percent of Canadians are not using paid vacation days provided by their employers. However, many workers today are resolving to spend more time with their spouses and children or engage in recreational activities. As such, traveling more is the goal of many individuals and families.

Although many people eagerly await their vacations, for some the idea of getting away is marred by prospect of things going awry or the stress of travel itself. To make travel easier, Time Management Ninja as well as WebMD suggest devising strategies to relieve stress. Other habits also can alleviate the potential pitfalls that are tied to travel that cause stress.

Make lists

Start by making a checklist of what to pack and what to bring. Cross-reference the checklist with what suitcases and bags the items have been stashed within. Begin the packing process several days before leaving for a trip, only leaving out essential items necessary for getting ready the day of departure. In addition, make another list of which bags need to be brought along. Place those bags by the front door so that nothing will be forgotten.

Build in extra time

According to the Travel Industry Association, 88 percent of leisure travel happens by car, truck or RV. Nine percent of Americans take to the air, while the rest journey by bus or train. No matter how you will be traveling, you’ll likely need to take to the road to get to an airport or train station.

Leave extra time for any hiccups along the way. Nothing can make you feel more stressed than being rushed and worrying that you will miss a departure due to traffic. Bring along a book, stream a movie or catch up on other tasks when you are early to the gate.

Confirm your itinerary

Avoid bad surprises by double-checking that flights are booked and hotel rooms have been reserved and by confirming the other aspects of your trip. This is especially important when using third-party booking sites to make travel plans.

Provide kids with entertainment

Be sure to bring along a bag with toys, electronics, games, coloring books, or whatever other distractions kids will enjoy to keep them occupied. Happy, occupied children are less likely to be disruptive, especially if travel delays occur.

Get ample sleep

Try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Lack of sleep can exacerbate feelings of stress and contribute to short tempers. WebMD says that it can take one to three days to recover from a sleep deficit and to unwind from stress. Factor in jet lag and the “first night effect,” a condition in which many travelers find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep in a new location, and sleep deprivation can be a problem. Leave time for sleeping in and do not over-pack a vacation schedule.

How to Save Money on Vacation

“Travel can be expensive, but savings are possible when travelers know where to look.”

Going on vacation often means throwing a little caution to the wind and indulging here and there on purchases or experiences a person wouldn’t normally make at home. According to a 2015 CBS News poll, the average American is entitled to 16 days of paid leave each year, and the average Canadian worker 19 days. Such time off is an opportunity to fit lots of fun into a relatively short period of time. Frugal travelers may want to be sure they’re spending their hard-earned money in the smartest ways. Traveling without breaking the bank enables the average person to take more vacations and continue to make invaluable memories. Here are some suggestions on making a getaway, whether it involves lots of traveling or staying close to home, more affordable.

Be flexible.

Travelers who are flexible in their departure dates and times can usually find great rates because they have the ability to shop price instead of date. Various airline websites and travel discount services show the average flight prices across several days. Frugal fliers can select the lowest price. The same can be true when booking hotels and other vacation components.

Pack light.

Many airlines now charge extra for baggage fees — especially for suitcases that exceed the weight limit — so don’t bring along unnecessary items. Hotels typically provide toiletries for free, so save space and money by removing such items from your luggage. Chances are if you didn’t pack an item, you can still find an affordable alternative at your destination.

Use coupons.

Coupons aren’t only for getting cents off your favorite brand of tissue at the supermarket. Coupons and discount codes are available for just about any purchase — even vacations. Check all travel websites to see if there are any deals to be had. Don’t overlook discounts related to your membership in clubs such as AAA or AARP or those linked to your alumni or military organization. According to RetailMeNot, having a social media account can help, too. Travel deal sites and airlines may post about flash sales.

Plan meals.

Look into economical restaurants before departing. Know where you’ll be eating and when, including packing a lunch or enjoying a hotel-provided breakfast. Enjoying a big lunch can be more frugal than indulging on dinner.

Rent small.

If renting a car, choose the smallest model that will fit your needs. In addition, there’s no need to pay for a large room that you don’t plan to spend much time in, so resist the temptation to book large hotel rooms.

Consider public transportation.

Investigate the public transportation options at your destination. Such options may not be as convenient as taxis, but they may be more economical.

Book based on currency.

Stay abreast of currency exchange rates. Such rates can make a big difference in choosing a destination, particularly if your money will be worth more internationally. Also, try booking a vacation through the local country’s version of the same travel site.

Skip tourist hotspots.

Talk to the locals to find out where to get the best deals. Try local foods, brews and more for a cost savings. Travel can be expensive, but savings are possible when travelers know where to look.

Get Prepared for Summer Camp Season

Summer camp season is just around the corner. Each summer, millions of children depart for campsites around the country to swim, hike, craft, and enjoy the companionship of friends.

Summer camps in North America were first established in the 1880s and were attended by children without their parents for overnight stays. By the 20th century, summer camps had become an international phenomenon, and various organizations hosted traditional summer camps or camps geared toward religion, sports, music and other subjects and activities. According to the American Camp Association, each year more than 14 million children and adults in the United States attend camp. America is home to more than 14,000 day and resident camps (8,400 are overnight camps and 5,600 are day camps). Nonprofit groups are the largest sponsors of summer camps.

Many people put off summer camp planning until it is too late. Parents should keep in mind that camps begin registration early in the year and have specific cut-off dates for enrollment. Parents who want to beat the crowds this year can use this guide to help plan a summer camp agenda.

· Attend an orientation seminar. Take the time to visit prospective camps for a tour, and use this open house as an opportunity to learn more about the programs offered. If available, find a camp employee to discuss your child’s eligibility for enrollment. Some camps may offer webinars for convenience.

· Fill out the enrollment package completely. Each camp has their own requirements for registration. Expect to submit some personal information, including a medical background and proof of insurance, names and numbers of emergency contacts, and any other pertinent information as it applies to the camper. This may include allergies, fears, physical or mental disabilities, or even preferences in camp courses.

· Establish payment schedules. Summer camps vary in price. The ACA says camp costs range from $100 to more than $1,500 per week. However, many accredited camps offer some sort of financial assistance for children from families with limited financial means. If cost is a factor, be sure to broach the subject.

· Prepare children for the physical challenges a camp may present. Summer camp activities may be rigorous, and campers may need to be cleared by a physician before starting. Be sure to schedule your child a physical and bring along any pertinent forms. Children also can increase their levels of physical activity compared to the often sedentary nature of winter. Such preparation can prevent injuries when engaging in outdoor and physical activities.

· Shop for supplies. Camps are likely to provide a list of requirements with regard to clothing and other equipment campers will need. Make sure kids have enough shorts, T-shirts, socks, athletic shoes, swimsuits, toiletries, and other camp necessities before they leave.

· Keep children in the loop. Engage children in the planning process to help alleviate their fears and get them excited about summer camp.

Summer camp can foster lifelong memories. Parents can help kids prepare in advance for the fun that’s soon to arrive.

Make Vacations and Travel a Key Component of Retirement

When the time comes to bid farewell to conference calls, meetings and daily commutes, retirees have open schedules to fill with whichever activities they choose. Travel is one exciting way to pass the time.

Traveling can be a rewarding prospect for active seniors, particularly those who successfully preplanned for retirement and have the income to fund various excursions. Many seniors, both in the United States and Canada, find that travel tops their to-do lists once they retire. According to Senior Travel magazine, new travel options are emerging for newly minted retirees looking for something a little different from the status quo.

The list of destinations retirees have at their disposal is limitless. The following ideas are some of the more popular ways retirees choose to travel.

Road trips rule.

Taking to the highways and byways is an excellent way to see the country. Seniors can customize their routes depending on which places they want to visit. RV travel can be as comfortable or as rustic as travelers prefer. Many seniors spend months traveling in their campers, which offer many of the same amenities of home. Campsites and special RV hook-up sites offer the other necessities of traveling the open road.

Genealogical tourism is popular.

People hoping to trace their ancestry and visit their ancestral homelands are one of the fastest-growing travel segments. Visiting an old church in Europe where ancestors were married or buying food from a market in which a great aunt or uncle once worked leads retirees on many international adventures. Such trips provide travelers with a unique opportunity to understand their roots up close and personal while enjoying some international travel along the way.

Exotic tours can be exciting destinations.

History buffs or adventure-seeking couples may be particularly attracted to exotic travel destinations that are slightly off of the beaten path. Travel tours may take vacationers to destinations such as excavation sites or backpacking through the rainforest. With passport in hand, seniors can go just about anywhere their desires take them.

Enjoy a relaxing seaside trip.

A seaside vacation can be the perfect trip for seniors who want to put their feet up and sip some cocktails while watching the waves lap the shores. Many beach resorts offer all-inclusive packages for different age groups. Meals, excursions and hotel rooms can be bundled into one affordable, confusion-free price.

Go cruising.

Speaking of all-inclusive vacationing, cruising seems tailor-made for those ages 50 and older because it offers the convenience of accommodations, food, entertainment, and transportation all in one. The various activities offered on the ship mean travelers can find ways to spend their time how they see fit. Cruising couples can opt to spend all of their time on the ship enjoying carefully prepared meals and entertainment or disembark and explore the various ports of call along the way.

Now that they have more free time, retirees can gear up for travel adventures to remember.

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3 Money-Saving Travel Tips for Retirees

Though a transient lifestyle is something few people aspire to during much of their lives, come retirement, the idea of staying in a place for only a short time has more appeal.

According to a 2014 study from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, 36 percent of baby boomers want to spend their retirements traveling. Many are succeeding in doing just that, as a study from the luxury travel network Virtuoso found that today’s seniors spent an average of just over $11,000 per year on travel. That was more than any other generation, highlighting just how much older adults like to get out and explore the world.

Retirees who fear they cannot afford to travel can explore the various ways for seniors to cut costs and still satisfy their wanderlust during retirement.

1. Take advantage of age-related discounts.

Some adults prefer to hide their ages, but when it comes time to travel during retirement, honesty is the best policy. Many businesses that cater to travelers offer discounts to seniors. Car rental agencies, hotels, travel agencies, and cruise lines may offer direct discounts to customers 65 and older, while membership in organizations such as AAA and AARP may make seniors eligible for additional discounts. Discounts on lodging and airfare might net the biggest savings, but even discounts on various smaller expenses can add up to big savings.

2. Don’t overlook travel agencies.

While many prospective travelers’ first instincts are now to visit various travel websites in an effort to find the most affordable trips, it’s important that travelers not overlook travel agencies when planning trips. Travel websites, though a valuable resource, only list the hotels and airlines that agree to be included on their sites. While many participate, some do not, and those that do not may instead work independent of travel websites or partner with travel agencies. Travel agencies have access to the latest information, and many specialize in certain countries, knowing all the attractions visitors to their countries want to see. Travel agencies may offer packages that include admissions to popular attractions, which can be more affordable than planning a trip a la carte.

3. Travel as part of a group.

Group travel may not appeal to everyone, but it should appeal to older, budget-conscious travelers. Retirees who are uncomfortable driving at home will likely be even less comfortable driving in foreign countries where the rules of the road are not the same. Traveling in groups, whether it’s with a retirement community, religious organization or another program, can save travelers substantial amounts of money. Many hotels and tourist attractions offer steep discounts for group tours, which can even be arranged through travel agencies. A hidden benefit of signing up for a group tour is the chance to meet new people and develop new relationships with fellow globetrotters.

Many working professionals hope to spend the bulk of their retirement traveling the globe. While such a goal is potentially costly, there are various ways to save and still see the world.